Wednesday Dec 16, 2020. 16:00
Egypt have been forced to withdraw from a qualifying tournament for the U-20 African Cup of Nations after more than a dozen of their players as well as their head coach returned positive Covid-19 tests.
The Young Pharaohs were preparing to face Libya in their opening match of the Union of North African Football Federations (UNAF) U-20 tournament (which is held in Tunisia and also features teams from the host nation, Morocco and Algeria) on Tuesday but were struck by a raft of infections.
The Covid-19 tests returned 14 positive results: 13 players plus coach Rabie Yassin. The remainder of the squad appeared at the Chedly Zouiten Stadium in Tunis for the match, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) ruled that Egypt were one member short of the minimum number required to play.
CAF awarded Libya a 3-0 walkover and Egypt have since withdrawn entirely from the tournament, ensuring they will miss the 2021 U-20 AFCON in Mauritania in February-March next year.
The EFA said in a statement that a private Egyptian aircraft will bring the team home.
“It would be difficult to take part in the qualifiers due to the number of absentees,” the EFA added, as quoted by Ahram Online.
The top two teams from the UNAF tournament will qualify for the AFCON U-20 finals. Tuesday’s other scheduled match saw Tunisia and Algeria draw 1-1 in Rades.